What Employers Want: Teamwork

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

~ Michael Jordan

If you are an athlete, then this competency is for you. Even the most solitary sport depends on an athlete and coach dynamic. But in the workplace, teamwork can sometimes look more like that dreaded group project where you know you did your part, but did everyone else do theirs?

Anchorman, 2004

The Teamwork competency for career readiness is defined as the ability to build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively with others toward common goals while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibility.

A new college graduate should be able to:

  • Allow your strengths, knowledge, and talents to complement those of others
  • Be accountable for individual contributions and team responsibilities
  • Listen to and consider the range of team member ideas and experiences
  • Effectively manage conflict, diverse personalities, and ambiguity with resilience
  • Exercise the ability to compromise, be agile, and deal with ambiguity

There are a variety of ways to address the questions about teamwork in your interview, but you want to always end it on a positive note. Even if someone was a jerk and didn’t get it done. How did you take ownership of the situation, and how did you resolve the conflict and move forward? That’s what employers are looking for in a candidate.

Tell me about a time you were working on a team, and there was a disagreement within the group. What did you do?

“I’m on the football team at Hampden-Sydney, which takes up a lot of time with workouts and games, so I’m very careful with time management in the fall semester. I was taking a class where we had a big group project, and none of the other people in my group had the tight schedule I had. They wanted to meet at the exact time as my daily afternoon practice, and there was no way I was going to be able to make it. But they weren’t budging on the time, so I asked if it would be okay if we worked on our portions separately and send it through Google Docs so we could collaborate on the edits throughout the week on our own time, and then meet on Sunday afternoon to make sure the presentation looked great for the next day. We all agreed on the plan, but I also double checked on that Wednesday that each of us was adding to the project in case “reminders” needed to be sent to certain people. It really put the responsibility on each of us as individuals, but when we came together for our final presentation we got an A on the project.”

Competencies Highlighted: Teamwork, Communication, Technology, Professionalism, Leadership